Of the eight high-gain amps my favorite is number three, which simulates the Marshall JCM 900 4x12 – the grain and clarity is very cutting and edgy. I found the Peavey 5150 a touch fizzy for my liking, but I may not have had it dialed in well. Nonetheless, there are six other high-gains from which to choose, all giving a different flavor of nastiness, including amp sims by ‘Flagman,’ Orange, Diezel, Mesa/Boogie, Soldano and ENGL. One thing for certain, those amps all sound rich and full, but I was even more impressed with the clean amps. My particular favorite is the Roland Jazz Chorus sim, which is best described as full-bodied and defined. Whenever I demo pedals on a clean amp channel I typically use The Countess V4 preamp (which has four tubes), due to its quality and note detail. However, the Roland Jazz Chorus sim competes very well for top spot in my studio. The other clean/crunch sims sound convincingly authentic as well, with tastes from Marshall, Mesa/Boogie, Matchless, Vox and Fender. The accompanying demo goes through some sound samples of all the amps and with some of my favorite settings. I even added an OD pedal for some leads (the Greg Howe Lick Box) and the Coral Amp accepted it willingly. Also, this tiny pedal and sounds so clear due to its built-in buffer – no mud here.
At only $79.99 USD I’m uncertain if there’s anything on the market that competes in quality and price. Do the amp sims sound better with an Axe-Fx or Kemper? Perhaps, but for someone looking for a pedal that sounds darn good for home recording, practice and even to keep gear light while transporting to gigs, then the Coral Amp is a serious contender. With sixteen amps (and matching cabinets) in two categories (clean/crunch and high-gain) that can be switched back and forth at the press of a footswitch, the Coral Amp has a lot to offer. One downfall may be that the Amp Type selection, gain or EQ may not be the same for both A and B selections. For instance, you may like clean amp 3 (and have the Amp Type dial in that position), but prefer high-gain amp 8 (and would need to turn the dial for that selection). And if you want different gain, volume and EQ settings for each, then you would need to tweak accordingly. A clearer way to think of this is having an amp head with two channels (crunch and lead), but with only one set of EQ, gain and volume knobs shared between the two. Regardless, for the price I am impressed.
The pedal works like any amp would, with a control for Volume, Gain and EQ (bass, midrange and treble). The amount of volume and gain depends on the model and how much overdrive you want in the signal. Some of the ‘cleaner’ amps require a high level of gain to produce distortion and a breaking up quality, whereas most of the high-gain amps sound best with the gain around 11-o’clock and 2-o’clock (a bit higher for leads and if not using an additional overdrive pedal). You chose among eight clean/crunch amps or eight high-gain amps by stepping down on the footswitch (the Cab Sim LED flashes green for the clean/crunch amps and red for the high-gain amps). For best sound the Cab Sim should be engaged, unless directing the Coral Amp to a different cabinet source (software or other IR pedal). When the Cab Sim is engaged its LED flashes, whereas the LED remains solid when disengaged. The Coral Amp is bypassed by holding down on the footswitch for a few seconds.
Measuring 93.5mm(D) × 42mm (W) × 52mm (H) or 3.74 (L) x 1.65 (W) x 2.0 (H) inches and weighing 160 g or 5.6 ounces, the Coral Amp is both light-weight and built well, with an aluminum alloy die-cast casing. The soft (no ‘click’) footswitch feels solid with no audible noise in the signal when in use. The mini plastic knobs light up when engaged, for clear indication when the pedal is on and for superior visibility in dark areas. The pots feel smooth and solid when turned. The Cab Sim on/off button is recessed and produces a click to the touch when pressed. The footswitch also is set higher than any of the controls, thereby avoiding damage when stomping. The Coral Amp requires a 9VDC standard power supply (negative tip) while drawing 200mA of current.